9 ways African businesses can increase Sales with Social Media

Studies suggest that Africans spend much more time on social media than any other online platforms. Here are 9 ways to take advantage of social media to make more sales.

In the past, many overlooked the market Africa could bring to mobile phone industries and related businesses during the massive patronage of mobile phones in the developed world in the 90’s. The few bold ones that took the risk to invest and sell in Africa are still benefiting endlessly. The numerous cell phone users in Africa are now coupling their massive taste in cell phones with a more excessive interest in social media.

Studies suggest that Africans spend much more time on social media than any other online platforms. The major social media platform worldwide and the most visited social media website in Africa is Facebook; others include Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

Why the need for social media for your business?

Social media platforms allow users to create, share and exchange information and ideas in the virtual world, therefore the active use of social media for your business allows you to stay connected to the consumer market or the consumer. First rule of business, without the consumer there is no market, to stay in business, the business must be where the consumer is, which is generally referred to as marketing or advertisement. Where is the attention of the customer? Social Media!

Money flows where the attention goes, social media is where the attention of consumer is currently and it is rapidly expanding, people carry smart phones that support and give instant access to the internet and social media applications. This is a great opportunity for every business, big or small to market their products or services right at the doorstep of customers or potential customers within seconds. Read more on this topic>>>

Where do I start?

You just took a bold and rewarding step by choosing social media. To start with, you must identify the most used social media platforms within your locality, it is advisable to narrow them down to at most 5 platforms to gain control and perfectly understand how they work and work hand in hand with each other before you proceed to other applications. We recommend Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google + and YouTube for a start. For these platforms you will be required to;

1. Create an Account

To create your business account, you need to have a username in mind, the username must be related to the name of your business as much as possible. A password will also be required, to successfully create your business account, you must agree and accept the terms and conditions for using the application. For the selected social media applications, it is advisable to use similar handles or usernames throughout, this helps users to easily locate your business account or handle on the social media platforms just by knowing the name of your business.

2. Create your bio

Your bio simply describes your business. As many words as allowed,  you are required to describe your business the best way you can, highlighting the product(s) or service(s) your business provides.

3. Get a business logo

This is very important considering that you are now creating a virtual store. Anywhere the logo is seen online, customers can actually trace and know that, this a product or service provided by your business. Get a logo that is appealing to the eye and best express your business. Upload and set this business logo as the display picture for the chosen social media platforms. Note that anytime your display or profile picture is changed, it must run throw the other accounts. Also, picture or video posts must have the logo watermarked or embedded in them.

4. Get a Website

As your business is expanding and growing, it is necessary that you get a website for your business, the website will be the virtual headquarters for your business, where files and posts are well organized and easily surfed. Unlike the website, the social media platforms come with restrictions on posts, a typical example is twitter which allows just 140 characters per post. Also it is very difficult to access old posts on social media.

How to stay on top, promote your business and increase sales

To increase sales and patronage your business deserves, it mostly depends on the number of people your posts reach and how convincing your posts are, there is therefore the need to strategize and plan, how best your posts can be seen and how best it can entice customers or potential customers. To help with that, here are some points to consider;

5. Scheduled posts

All posts must be well scheduled and timed, social media allow you to post blogs, pictures, videos and links about your business and also caption them. It must be considered the time of the day the posts are made and the time most users are active to see posts. Posts made with your business account appear on the timeline or “wall” of users that follow your business account. Three (3) posts a day at least is okay with one is the morning, one is the afternoon and one in the evening.

6. Graphics

All posts must be accompanied with well-designed graphics, watermarked with the business logo and contacts, this attracts users to appreciate and read posts.

7. Interactive posts

Interactive posts is the salt in the soup that gives it that splendid taste. These are not the usual posts that are reaching out in the form of advertisement, they are meant to be exciting, talking about new trends and engaging. They invite more likes, views, shares, retweets and comments than the usual posts. They can be in the form of quotes, riddles, jokes, fashion, questions etc. This is unlimited to your amount of creativity. All interactive posts must have the business logo and contact which indirectly informs users where they are enjoying such a post and where to come for more.

8. Like, share, retweet, favorite, comment and follow

This targets to increase your post reach and increase your business page fan base or followers. The business handle must be used to like, share, retweet, favorite, comment and follow accordingly and responsibly, whatever the handle is used to endorse by liking or commenting reflects on the business. Adopting this strategy makes your business handle get noticed.

9. Use of hashtags

The power of hashtags should not be underestimated. To well explain how hashtags work and why they should be used, here is an instance: let’s say I am very active on Instagram and I am looking for shoes to buy, I can go to the search engine on Instagram and by choosing the hashtag search, I type shoes and a grid of posts appears, these posts can lead me to a shoe company’s page. Hashtags organize your posts like an album to improve search. It is good to have a consistent hashtags for all posts made.

4 Ways African Start-Ups Can Leverage On The New Media For Growth

You may doubt if you had been told in the 90s that the advent of fast rising new media will revolutionise the entire world in the new millennium. Let me take you through four reasons why you need to bank on social media for an exponential growth in your business.

You may doubt if you had been told in the 90s that the advent of fast rising new media will revolutionise the entire world in the new millennium. The ripple effect is clear to all and sundry. According to StartUp Grind, fast growing Silicon Valley companies leverage on social media as part of the ways of widening their horizon and garner for support for their startups.

Now, let me take you through four reasons why you need to bank on social media for an exponential growth in your business:

1. Community

There is a teeming number of people who are signed on to a social media channel daily. According to StatsMonkey, the most used social network in Ghana is Facebook with a usage of about 94.89%. This basic statistic means that, a large number of the Ghanaian community are connected to one social network or the other. Let’s demystify this, in as much you have people moving from one place to another to search for goods and services, there exists some equally large number of people who spend some time using the internet for social media and may bump into things to buy or a service to be rendered to them. This is one of the reasons why as an emerging business, you have the leverage of the social network community.

2. Cost-Effectiveness

Traditional marketing was what businesses took advantage of in order to break into their market. As a small business breaking into the highly-competitive market in this 21st century, there should be a considerable form of using the digital media to enter into the market. Both channels of marketing are essential but as an SME, starting the digital media way will save you some cash to take care of other things as far your business is concerned. For instance, a sponsored ad on Facebook for a week will cost not more than $70 (GHC280.00) for a reach of over thousands of people. On the other hand, a billboard will not be less than $254 (GHC1, 000). The cost of moving from one place to another to market your product will reduce since you are mostly immobile in using social media. You will agree with me that, as a typical African business, you are being handicapped by economic shocks like high inflation rate, high interest rate and so on; therefore, using the new media will be an add-on.

3. Measurability

The whole concept of digital marketing is interlaced with the ability to measure your performance over a period of time. The analytics that these social networks provide are vital to the growth and sustainability of your small business. Performance management is one of the major factors of business development and the new media makes it possible to measure your performance online for a defined period of time. The reason is that it helps you strategise and look out for innovative ways of marketing and if possible, a change of social media channel. You may not be able to measure the number of people who have watched an ad on the television but give rough approximations, you may not know how many people see that billboard on the street; the point is not to downplay the essence of traditional marketing but as an emerging business you can make a lot out of social media, thus the ability to measure result and performances.

4. Customer Support

Customer retention is to some extent, dependent on the speed of response given to customers’ complaints. One tool that characterizes the social media platforms is that there are ways to easily reach out to you. It is very simple for customers to for instance to mention your business’ twitter handle and tweet their problems or issues out to you on Twitter. Facebook users can also send messages to register their complaints or enquire about your services. One thing to consider is that, if prudent measures are not taken to address these customers’ issues, some may vent their frustrations via the social networks. They ripple effect is not something you would want to bear because a bad reference is a bad reputation for your business. As an emerging business, social media gives you the opportunity to respond to complaints quickly.

You cannot underestimate the effect of social media and how it is quickly creeping into our world.

Ignore it and you are bound to stagnate with your business.